Rescue crews perform welfare check at 800 feet on Whiteside Mountain

Highlands Fire & Rescue received a call on Tuesday shortly after 5:30 p.m. reporting two climbers possibly trapped on a rope on the east face of Whiteside Mountain.

Pictured below is a welfare check for two climbers on the east face of Whiteside Mountain involving Highlands Fire & Rescue, Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office:

HFR Rescue Captain Eric Pierson said after making visual and verbal contact with the climbers, it was confirmed they were not in danger. However, making that confirmation took some effort.

Rescue crews located two climbers on Whiteside Mountain to confirm their safety after receiving a call of possible climbers in distress on the east face.

Rescue crews from HFR, Glenville/Cashiers Rescue Squad, and Jackson County Sherriff’s Office headed up the mountain to determine the climbers’ status.

GCRS Captain Chip Sherrill visually monitors the climbers via drone while waiting for verbal contact to be established.

After locating the climber’s ropes and anchors, GCRS Rope Team member Matt Chrestman rappelled down the sheer cliff face to try and make contact with the climbers, who could be anywhere between the top of the ridge and 800 feet down to the bottom of the cliff.

The climbers were located on the sheer 800 foot cliff face along Whiteside Mountain.

Crews used a drone to make visual contact with the climbers along the vast swath of sheer-vertical rock that makes up the east face, and then made verbal contact to confirm their safety.

“We used a drone to get a visual on the situation and figure out if they were in distress or not,” said Pierson. “Once they ascended a bit up the rope and we established verbal contact they informed us they were ok.”

GCRS Rope Team member Matt Chrestman (upper, middle, left; wearing blue jacket and white helmet) makes his way down the sheer cliff face to establish contact with two climbers.

GCRS Captain Chip Sherrill said crews were short on manpower on Tuesday evening because of three emergency calls at once.

“We had three calls within 5 minutes so we were spread pretty thin in terms of manpower,” said Sherrill. “But Matt went down and they told us they were good to go and no one got hurt, so it went well.”

The two other calls included a couple of hikers who needed help hiking in Panthertown Valley due to exhaustion and a report of a woman getting separated from her group along the Chattooga River Trail. Sherill said all hikers were successfully located by rescue crews and there were no reported injuries as of Tuesday evening.

HFR Rescue Captain Eric Pierson waits for an update from GCRS Rope Team member Matt Chrestman on the status of the two climbers.

The east face of Whiteside Mountain is popular for rock climbing because of the 800 foot sheer cliff face. Pictured above are the located climbers making their ascent to the top, they have about 200 feet to go.

Pictured at the top of the article is GCRS Rope Team member Matt Chrestman making contact with two climbers to confirm their safety.  Chrestman is pictured at the top of the cliff wearing a blue jacket and white helmet.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
Follow us on Instagram: @plateaudailynews
Like us on Facebook HERE
Advertise click HERE

3 thoughts on “Rescue crews perform welfare check at 800 feet on Whiteside Mountain

  1. We are so fortunate to have such talented and dedicated emergency service professionals, both staff and volunteers, available 24/7. Thanks for all you, and your colleagues across the region, do for residents and visitors alike!

  2. some pertinent info missing from this article… who in the world called in the “climbers in distress,” and how exactly did they (obviously being non-climbers) come to the determination that they should call 9-1-1 about something that they seem to have little understanding of?

    • Information at the time of the interviews was minimal. Those first on the scene were told someone called in about possible climbers in distress on a rope, or a rope with no climbers attached. Both scenarios warranted a physical wellness check. But I agree, I wish I had more info on the caller for the article.

Leave a Reply